Living Life # 16 “Spelled.”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

Cassie spread the the pages of the tome out before her. It was easier to read the handwritten scribbles and see the crawling illustrations this way. They scattered across the page and in the dusk light, almost seemed to be moving with a word jumping a few lines here or the picture of the lemon going fuzzy and then rapidly going into focus again. After she lit the three candles, it got better. The dust was a different issue.

The book had not been touched in over twenty five years, Cassie was sure. It had been her grandmother’s a long time ago. She had passed it onto Cassie’s mother and then she had passed it to the attic where it sat long and lonely for a quarter of a century. At least till it had found its way onto the kitchen table right now. Every time Cassie flipped a page, a cloud went up, a cough rattled her throat and the dust clung to wood of the table in tiny finger prints.

So she began by lighting the sage. A small bowl, the bundle of herbs and a match that burst and then died. Then that was complete. It filled the room with a rush of scent, earthy and natural, taking over the air and it wasn’t long before the dust was forgotten.

Looking at the tome was like reading a manual for building a chair or a recipe for pumpkin cookies. All that needed to be done, now that she could see and breathe, was follow the steps.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

The pot of boiling water on the stove was starting to salivate, the water sputtering out in rabid little pops. Lifting the lid she tossed in a sprig of rosemary, then another. The water simmered down, satisfied for the moment. At least until Cassie threw in the frankincense and myrrh. Together the words ordered, so as to help the reach of her little cooking stint. A dash of salt for safety, a bunch of roses for attraction, and then the clove to keep the whole thing tightlipped from the world. Or at least her mother.

Rubbing her hands together Cassie stirred the contents and a gray smoke cloaked the room mingling with the sage burning on the counter.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

Now only a few bits left to add, then the incantation.

Bubble bubble
toil and trouble

dusky air,
lock of hair

leaves of rose,
two blue bows

a ghost’s kiss,
a snake’s hiss
the pretty things
you shouldn’t miss.

On this eve
meet my need.


Help to find
a steady mind

to guide me through
this witch’s brew

To see the past
understand at last
the hidden truth
my question asked

and granted answer
to become advancer

and much more clear
in the way of seer
. “

The candles went out like a sigh. All was quiet. Even the night outside was still… all except for her heart which stuttered for a beat, then two. What did she do? Had it worked?

Cassie didn’t feel any wiser. Or, any less confused. Maybe her suspicion had been wrong and Grandmother hadn’t been a witch at all…

A purple spark jumped from her fingers lighting the room in a flash, then another. Cassie held up her hands and stared. Again, her hands sparked, brighter this time, because she was aware. It danced like a little beam of static across her palms, and then back.

“Cassie…” called her mother from upstairs. “how you doing Sweetie?”

“Magical Mom.” she smirked. “Just magical.”

A pause, then “Are you being sarcastic?”

Cassie shook her head and called out, “No!” Then quietly to herself, “Not this time.” She clenched her fists but the purple flickers remained.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

“Ghost Story”

I saw two boys standing,
in the picture,
on the broken stair.
One with a frown,
and the other,
without a care.

The black haired one,
looking very serious
and quite proud,
held a book in his hand
his shoulders pitched forward
as if he had just bowed.

The lad with the smirk
and penny copper hair
all tousled about his face,
had his eyes far off
and looking away
as he stared into space.

It was taken
twenty three years ago
my mother told me.
When the world
was summer and
she and they played near the sea.


On Roan Island
where they lived,
there was a tale.
You see, the entrance
must be given one soul
to go beyond the veil.

My mother said
the boy made of copper,
brash and not coy,
had a timeless laugh
always heard at the wrong time
that sounded with no joy.

The dark haired one,
was forged of iron
and shadow smart.
His cracks were always witty
but they didn’t come
from his heart.

There was a game
they played
those nights by the sea.
“Something more
must be waiting
for our trio of three.”

One long summer,
when the ocean was storming
and the moon was bright,
one of them
disappeared
into the night.

He vanished,
like a light
in the dark.
The light of soul,
gone,
out like a spark.

“Never saw him again.”
My mother sighed,
her words slow.
“Other things I see now
ever since that night.”
and her voice was so low.

“What? What are you seeing
that I can’t?”
I asked shrewdly.
The picture crinkled
in my hand
the boys wrinkling crudely.

My mother stared straight
her eyes startled and wide
and looking right through me.
“I watch the dead now, sweetie,
for years they’ve come and go
creaking floors and spilling tea

they’ll never leave me alone.
By the sea we played
that stupid game.
Never the one soul
I wanted to see
but do I call his name. “

“Who?” I asked.
“Is it that you want to meet?”
She took the photo in hand
and looked down forlornly.
There was salt in her eyes,
and in her hair fell sand.

“One day the game
would catch up
I always knew.
The time to collect
the sin I owe,
proud and true.”

She pointed down
and I stared, then she said
only to me.
“Until now I never saw him
but now in this room
there are three.”

Living Life # 15 “Oblivion”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

It was just like a drum that was picking up the tempo. My heart, that was.

“Can you see him?”

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. A rising crescendo I couldn’t get a handle on. “I can’t see anything. It’s too dark.” The most I could make out was an outline. The slope of the stairs with the creaking last step, the lamp with the twisted metal where I had scraped my shoulder, and the barricade of wood nailed to the door. There were only traces of light trying to find a way in through the cracks in the boarded up windows. It had to be nearly dawn by now.

“Not for long.” Dmitri leaned back against the surface of the overturned dining room table, brushing his shoulder against my own. The contact pushed my already frayed nerves more on to the edge, making me wince. He didn’t seem to notice, as he continued “We have to hold out.”

That was the goal… but the longer the music played in the background, the harder it was to control my breathing. That drum in my chest and the phonograph were marching a perfect beat to the classical music that hadn’t stopped playing the entire time. In an empty mansion, with no one around for miles, I guess even monsters needed something to fill the silence that too much solitude brought on.

I almost felt bad, for a second. The smell of blood was too prevalent for the feeling to last any longer. It was dripping down my arm, faster than I could stop it and Dmitri was no better off. The monster had stabbed its nails into his side.

“He’s going to find us again.”

Dmitri grunted, guttural and low, and in hindsight it might even have been a laugh. “Beyond all doubt.” Between the smell of blood and the creaking last step it was a matter of moments.

The music was getting louder by the second and I knew that it was getting closer. It seemed to follow wherever it went. In the library it had been overwhelming, like trying to fight with an entire orchestra bowing in your ear. Not ideal circumstances for a hunt.

Behind the fallen table, I stood up. The hiding spot would not hold forever. Nothing could. Not even immortals were entirely safe. Dmitri looked up, but he didn’t say anything. I sidestepped carefully over his long legs but he caught me quick, with startling strength, and squeezed my ankle. Then just let me go… as quickly as the gesture had come. I nodded, but in the dark who knew if he saw.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. BANG.

Exposed and hesitant, I stepped into the center of the foyer. The strings were getting louder from upstairs so there was only so much time. Dodging any pointed furniture and watching for any debris on the tile floor I edged my way closer to the window. It was just planks of wood covering the light. All I had to do was rip one away. That would be enough.

Anchoring my fingers around the edge of the board, I pulled.

And it didn’t budge.

“You are not strong enough for that, Love.” My heart stilled. At the top of the stair, his shape was clear. Skinny like a scarecrow and his silhouette edged like barbed wire, a shadow moved taking one leisurely step after another easing his descent down. Splinters hooked into my fingers the harder I struggled and the music, despite my rush, became deceptively slow. Mellow even. Nice, soothing…

His hand was at my shoulder in barely any time at all. With almost no effort, he turned me around. In that little glint of light his fangs seemed almost beautiful. But then again all vampires were beautiful. And humans couldn’t help but be entranced by pretty things. But the wound on my shoulder put me in no mood for pretty.

Just revenge.

At the opposite end of the room, Dmitri ripped off a board from a different window and the sun came streaming in. The music hitched as the vampire hissed and with sudden, brutal clarity the world slowed into focus again. I stabbed the monster through the heart.

Then the music finally stopped.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

There was sunlight streaming in. Groggily, I opened my eyes to the window.

Bang. Bang. Bang-

With a thump my alarm abruptly went silent. I placed my phone back on the end table and sat up slowly. It was morning… one day over and another beginning. I threw the covers off of me, and then cringed.

“My shoulder…” I massaged it, squeezing the muscle to relieve some of the tension but not even that made all the pain go away. Rolling my neck, I blinked still not quite awake. “Must have slept funny… what was I dreaming…?”

But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember any of it at all.

Living Life #14 “Cicada”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

The forest was alive.

I could tell from the ground. Solid and unyielding, it was the only thing keeping me standing. Like two lead pencils, I felt like my legs were inching instead of walking. Each heavy step I took seemed to echo and reverberate back to the core of the Earth. The dirt was marking my path, I only hoped they weren’t paying too much attention.

I could tell from the roots. Thick and strong, worn with time but all the more wise for it. Nearly tripping over one, I braced myself against the tree and took a breath. Keeping my head down, my eyes drank in the sight. Wrinkles, like memories, etched into their bark as deep as trenches, hiding secrets that were waiting for someone to come and figure them out. They looked like hands reaching down to grab that which I didn’t know. But something worth while. I wanted to stay here, I wanted to figure out their truth. They were the reason I had come at all.

But I had been rash, and overlooked something. Something important.

I could tell from the air. It was breathing. The wind inhaling with slow, gentle breezes letting the leaves, as green and vibrant as life, take the exhale. I was alone. That was the lie they were telling me. And the worst part was I wanted to believe them. But that would make us both liars.

And it would make only me the naive one. It was a word my mother had called me too many times. In hindsight, I guessed she was right. About that, and something else.

Don’t go into the forest.

I smiled, but there was no happiness in it. Everything was quiet. And then all of a sudden, everything went loud. They found me.

Three shadows had come up behind me. In all of my struggle to get away from them I didn’t have much energy left. I had been running for five hours straight. Any normal human being, especially a girl who looked more like a flower than a tree, shouldn’t stand a chance against the watchers of the forest. The hulking ones I had thought only existed in legend.

In the hard way I guessed I had learned of one of the forests secrets. But the revelation was more bitter than sweet.

At least now there were only three human sized ones left. The first of the five had drowned when I ran behind the waterfall. The second had gotten impaled on that sharp, low lying branch a mile back. Black carapaces that upon closer inspection looked like armor instead flesh, spread knife tipped wings blocking the way I had come, and beady black eyes that never changed focus. My mother was right the deeper you travel, the scarier the forest becomes. These insects looked like they had come straight from the Jurassic period. No wonder she had kept me inside for all those years.

On the other side of these bugs there was me and, locked into my grip, my small hunting knife.

“Fine. If that’s how you want to do it.”

The forest was alive. And right now, so was I.

That was the way it was going to stay.

Living Life #13 “Déjà Vu”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

I know you.

My sneakers skidded to a stop in the street. A drum was beating in my chest and a shiver screamed down my spine. It didn’t matter that the sun was blazing down from high above because my body had suddenly run bitterly cold.

I know you.

It hit me right in the face from all the way across the street where you were. Sitting outside the very coffee shop I was nearly on my way to. You didn’t even look up and silently I thanked my lucky stars.

Though was I really lucky that they had let me get this far?

I wish I had realized it sooner. But in all fairness, I’m glad I realized it at all. Years had blown by my mind all in the matter of a single glance, just across the street. Why now? Why? Why?

Fate you’re cruel.

A few months ago, I noticed you at the table across from me. You were just sipping your coffee and I had been minding my own business. But then I saw you the next week, and the week after that. Kind words passed between us when your order accidentally got mixed up with mine. You said hi to me the next time we crossed paths and then goodbye a few days later.

You even told me a story about your job. You looked so happy and so passionate and I was so stupid. I got a crush. A crush. The perfect word for a terrible thing. I wanted to crush your mouth against mine and now I want to crush the bones in your body.

But that’s just me trying to get a handle on the feelings turning my blood to ice. You were just being nice. I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at myself.

Stealing my sleep at night, distracting me at work, turning my brain to goo when all you did was walk by my table on your way to the restroom. Good God. You probably didn’t even know how much I liked you.

So many years have passed, you most assuredly don’t remember me. Not from back then. It was ten years ago, when high school was right around my corner and college was the next step for you. I was chubby and small, nothing worthy of a near senior. I saw you at a party that I just happened to be at by accident. I was hanging out with a friend whose name I don’t even remember now, and her older sister was having a a few friends over. And there you were.

I know you.

Even then I gave you gaga eyes and stared. I looked right at you. You did not look at me. Then I watched as another girl walked right up to you and you squeezed your arm tightly around her. All alone in your own world. That’s when I ran upstairs to hide.

I stole another look across the street and there it was glimmering in the stupid heat from the sun. I never noticed the ring, but now it’s all I see. Stupid, stupid me… I never even thought to check before.

You still have the same face. The same tan. The same laugh that fills the air. No wonder I saw you from across the room. It was inevitable, but why?

My nails dug deep into my palms, but if they pushed any farther I might have started bleeding on the street. This stupid crush trying to tear me apart.

I pushed myself to put one foot in front of the other and I walked away from the heat, the cafe, you. You had no idea, thank God. The past belongs in the past. And from now on that is where you are going to stay.

I know you.

But why did it even have to happen at all?

Living Life #12 “Can You Hear It?”

( a collection of independent vignettes)

Can you hear it?

At first, it sounds like the release of a long held breath. The kind where there are no bills in the mail, all of the work is done for the day, and everyone is home where they belong. Relief. The feeling floods you and makes the world safe. Then, when it breathes in, you turn your attention to it. Though not always because you wanted to. Sometimes it pulls at your mind so much it gives you no choice. Don’t be alarmed… all within a certain radius sense its pull. The air it carries is infused with its own special magic.

And the sight itself is beautiful.

The water has a pattern that plays over and over. It’s hypnotizing… and endless. Breathing out and coming forward, and breathing in and pulling back. It will play this game forever… and after it captures your eyes for longer than a glance you will want to play too.

It helps if it’s hot outside but that isn’t always necessary for some. On occasion even when the wind blows frost, I’ve witnessed the most steadfast soul become drowned in just the allure of the waves.

With each step closer the sand molds to your feet and again that safe feeling returns. Each grain wants you there, and each step sinks your heels deeper and deeper into the warmth of the ground.

It doesn’t matter that by the time you reach the end of the path your arches are burning because the water is right there kissing the fire away. A reward for making the long trek across the desert to say hello.

Back and forth, teasing you and bringing that relief again and again. Why bother with the game, when the ocean whispers to you just come a little closer and we never have to part.

Can you hear it?

Just a few more steps and now the water has a hold on your ankles. It feels like ice cream on a parched throat, a shower after playing in the mud, a fan blowing in your face. Safe. Oh so safe.

It isn’t until it’s caressing your waist that you hesitate. Some don’t even realize that they have gone that far out. It’s from feeling the pulse of the wind across the water, it’s from the crushing blue color of the sky and the sea meeting, it’s from dodging the waves that never stop coming.

Maybe this is too far.

The ocean is at its strongest by the time you reach this point. Everywhere you turn there’s water and the last time you checked there was no oxygen down there. Something rough scrapes against your heel and you jump moving a little bit deeper to get away. It was probably a sea shell.

I’m sure it was.

But the last part to this play is when the ocean’s breath no longer sounds like a sigh. Listen.

Now, it’s screaming. The realization hits you fast. The water moves by itself. It has no alligience to me. Or you. It does what it wants, and right now it is holding you in its hand. The feeling of safety drains from your body like sand down a hourglass as the next wave smashes into your mouth. A bitter taste of salt and seaweed. It’s this moment that you realize you could die.

Just come a little closer and we never have to part…

The tune never changes. Even though your feelings have. So you stand stuck trapped in what was once such a beautiful thing and, though your pounding heart will now say otherwise, it still is…

Can you hear the breath of the ocean? And if you do…

Are you strong enough to beat its game?

Living Life #11 “Solid Land”

(a collection of vignettes)

I bet I could catch him if I tried.

Like a goldfish in a mass of sharks I was trapped. With one arm pinned behind me and my other thrust forward with the paper in my hand I had to find a way to swim through. To my detriment though this wasn’t an ocean of water, but of concrete and business suits.

“Excuse meeeee.” I tried, squirming from under one elbow to another. The heat wasn’t helping anything. Beads of sweat were collecting at my temples and no matter how many times I ducked or swiveled I couldn’t escape the throng. There wasn’t time for this. I would need a different approach. “MOVE.” Well. That was more effective. “Please.”

A gangly guy with slipping glasses and a goatee moved immediately and the bald headed man in the pinstripe suit raised an eyebrow but to his credit knew when to follow an order. Even when it came from the mouth of a short girl with a ponytail of frizz. Couldn’t be helped.

A car horn blew by and between one breath and the next the mad dash of traffic running parallel to me dwindled to a trickle. No. Not yet. Just as my feet reached the corner of the street the crosswalk signal turned red.

“No.” I said out loud. Stretching in my sneakers, my eyes scanned ahead. Past the skyscrapers and coffee cups there was an endless sea of people, but there was just one fish I needed to catch… there. Just past the hot dog stand, right in front of the entrance to the park was the navy blue baseball cap.

I took a step forward. That’s when the horn hit me loud and clear. Right in front of my face the blur of a taxi rushed past, and I teetered back to the curb. That was close. The rest of the traffic stampeded past in front of me and the herd behind pushed like hammerheads testing the confines of the cage, but I kept my eyes locked on that cap just until it rounded the corner of the next block. The breath left my lungs.

The crosswalk light lit up. Deep breath in. I bolted, as did the rest of them. Being at the front of the pack was easier than being trapped in the middle. In no time at all, I distanced myself and took up the next challenge of weaving through the others floating along the street. The elderly couple I swung around shouted at my back, but I just crushed the paper tighter in my hand. The mother of three I was sure didn’t even see me breeze by, but her kid in the stroller giggled when I jumped over his fallen toy. After some awkward eye contact with the hot dog guy, his white shirt stained in unflattering spats of red and yellow, I whipped to the next corner and turned right. I stopped short.

The avenue was near empty. There was no sign of the cap.

With my heart pounding in my chest, my hand crunched to a fist at my side and my face wearing a defeated expression… I had lost him.

The paper crinkled. In my pursuit it had turned into a mess of wrinkles and creases. The once pretty note, no longer looked as pristine as it did when it had accidentally fallen out of his backpack and then against my ankle, blown back by the wind.

Do you ever feel alone
even when the whole world
is pressing against your sides?
(The water pressure
pulling you down.)

Why hadn’t I opened my mouth sooner? As soon as the damned thing had touched my skin, why didn’t I open my mouth when you were only a few yards away? Because… as soon as my eyes caught the words on the page I had to finish reading it.

Do you know
how the words you say
no one seems to understand?
(Speaking goldfish
in a tank full of sharks.)

The edges unfurled in my hands, the pen lines running slick with my own sweat and disappointment. The letters, all loose and flowing like water down a stream, trailed into marks on my fingers.

To what end
would you go
to find the answer
you need?
(How far down
into the sea
would you swim?)

This poem wasn’t mine to keep. But nor could I throw it away. That would just seem wrong. If I hadn’t read the whole thing would I have even gone this far to give it back to you? Probably not… but it didn’t matter now.

And what if
when you arrived…

I looked down the avenue once again.

you were still left dumb.

Every new face that appeared around the corners, and hopping out of cars looked the same to me…because none of them were wearing navy blue baseball caps. To no one I muttered, “You didn’t even finish it.”

It was easy to move when there wasn’t a crowd around you, and I got to the concrete wall easily enough but an unsettled feeling tugged at my stomach. After all the trouble, I had come up short. Pulling a pen from my purse I flattened the paper against the building then paused. Then I put the pen down, letting my own curving scrawl drift onto the page.

I don’t now how long I was standing there after I finished, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. After being so focused before, my head felt dazed when I looked up into a pair of navy blue eyes. He gave a nervous smile, and gestured to the paper still flat against my palms.

“Excuse me but…” and he let the sentence hang. But that was probably my fault. Saucer wide, my eyes zeroed in on the cap and I’m sure I must have looked like an idiot but…

“This is yours!” I whipped the paper toward him, quick and self conscious. “Here, thank God. I wanted to give this back. You dropped it.” I took a deep breath and a step back. His eyes roved over the sheet and now I was feeling embarrassed. Maybe best just to go. Another step back, but then my mouth got the better of me. “Sorry, I thought I lost you so I…”

“You finished it.”

To the surface
you’d float
spitting water from your chest.
And think maybe this won’t
turn out for the best.

“Well… I…” Cue the nervous laughter. “You can just cross it out.”

Until the air flows back
into your lungs
and out reaches a hand
to haul you back to solid land.

His eyes scanned the page again and with a quick shake of his head he said, “No. No.” I watched the cap shake side to side, it was too embarrassing to look at his eyes. It had been stupid of me in the first place. It was uncalled for to finish his work, rash to chase after a stranger, and luckless that I had decided to walk home today.

Realizing the answer
wasn’t going to come
when you called.

“It works.” he finished, dumbfounded. Wait, what? Did I hear that correctly? Rewind. His eyes met mine. They were a tad more noticeable, up close, than his hat. “Thanks.”

It needed
to find
you.

“Oh… you’re welcome.”